The readers’ forum

Put HistoryMiami archives online


In his April 24 Other Views piece, Telling the story of South Florida, HistoryMiami’s incoming chairman Phillip M. Hudson writes, “Our new vision is designed to engage, entertain and attract every resident of and visitor to South Florida.”

HistoryMiami’s website describes the museum as “the premier cultural institution committed to gathering, organizing, preserving and celebrating Miami’s history.”

But the one word missing: sharing.

By its own count, HistoryMiami’s picture archives contain more than 1 million prints and photographs.

When The Miami News ceased publication in 1988, the paper donated its archive of news photographs to HistoryMiami. A quarter century later, virtually none of those historic, one-of-a-kind photos has been digitized and put online.

Recently, The New York Times reported that the American Museum of Natural History would make available online 7,000 photographs that, up until now, were only available by visiting the museum’s research library.

British Pathé, the U.K. newsreel company, recently uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 historic films to YouTube. A few years ago, the New York Public Library made hundreds of thousands of prints and photographs freely available on its website.

While museums and libraries throughout the country continue to make their collections available to the public in much the same way Netflix delivers movies, the leaders at HistoryMiami seem content to run their institution like a 1990s Blockbuster.

Congratulations to Mr. Hudson on his selection as HM’s new chairman.

Hopefully, he’ll be able to accomplish more than his predecessors have.

Bill Cooke, Miami

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